SAHS sports teams go face-to-face with new virtual strategies

Through virtual uses of technology and online meetings, Souderton sports coaches and teams alike have been able to adapt to the new sports environment amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.


“Get out of your seat and jump around”…During a 2020 summer meet at the Olympic Club, junior Dekai Averett participates in a 110m hurdle run. Aside from the 110m hurdles, Averett also competes in a multitude of track events, including 300m hurdles, 200m, 400m and long jump.

Despite the challenges the sports world has faced in the last year with COVID-19, Souderton Area High School’s athletic teams are developing new strategies and techniques to rise above these difficulties.
This year, coaches and players are using virtual platforms and technology in order to communicate with one another to give themselves the best opportunity to succeed.
Multiple coaches are using new strategies this sports season, including girls basketball coach Lynn Carroll. For Carroll, the main focus has been time management for preparation.
“With fewer practices to prepare for games, we’ve had to make some decisions about where to focus our time and energy,” Carroll said.
In the beginning of the season there was a three week shutdown for sports. Carroll believed that the team needed to keep the same mindset during this shutdown regardless of what events would follow.
“During the three week shutdown, we did a variety of things in order to continue the mindset that we were still in season,” Carroll said. “We also asked our players to run a certain number of miles each week and asked them to do drills using a basketball skills training app for which we have a subscription.”
The track teams also had to implement a few new strategies this season to stay in shape this season. Junior track player Dekai Averett believes there have been a variety of virtual methods used this year to keep up compared to other years, however they have certainly been more difficult than years past.
“The team has used certain virtual communication methods like texting to keep track of workouts and see what the other team members are doing,” Averett said.
The track team has tried a few other strategies to remain in shape, as well.
“Certain athletes on the team have met up and done workouts together outside of school to try and stay in shape while being pushed by another teammate,” Averett said.
Boys basketball coach Tim Brown has also had to make a few adjustments this basketball season.
During the three week shutdown, Brown held one hour zoom sessions each day.
“These sessions would include a thirty-minute body workout and then either thirty minutes of X’s and O’s and scheme or thirty minutes of team bonding exercises,” Brown said.
Junior basketball player Devang Bhandari has been a part of the virtual method since the summer.
“The basketball team has been very involved in using virtual methods. When we went online, we had Zoom workouts every day after school, but these have been going on since the summer, as we did not get to have our normal offseason workouts due to COVID-19,” Bhandari said.
Bhandari also noted how well the team has participated during these Zoom workouts. “The whole team has done a good job in coming to these workouts and doing them, which has helped put our team in a good position,” Bhandari said.
Brown credited basketball senior captain Evan Kutzler for doing “a great job of leading this young group,” while also “showing them what it takes to play varsity basketball.”
Kutzler believes that having leadership qualities are very important for the team, and also thinks it comes naturally to him.
“Nobody’s perfect so there’s definitely some things that I’ve had to get out of my comfort zone to do and I think that comes with being a leader. You have to do things you’re not comfortable with in order to best help the team,” Kutzler said.
Kutzler feels as if it is his job to “instill confidence” and “prepare” the younger members of the team for varsity basketball.
“I believe I’ve definitely contributed to the success on the offensive and defensive end, but more importantly I think my leadership and my experience has helped the team even more,” Kutzler said.
Brown believes it is very important to have good communication with his players and he believes that the team has done a good job of that and has prioritized being virtually “face-to-face,” without actually being face to face in person.
As far as communication goes, Kutzler agrees with Brown’s priorities. “We’ve definitely been forced to have better communication through social media than in recent years because of COVID, and I think it allowed us to better develop a relationship with the young players who are new to the program that we normally wouldn’t see,” Kutzler said.
Brown also thinks that adjustments must be made this year more compared to years past.
“It is very important to adjust to this year in terms of preparation. We must keep it simple and focus on the little things in order to have the success we wish for,” Brown said.
Brown says that “the little things” are what is most important this year.
“Things like playing your role, knowing your responsibilities, and having unbelievable effort and energy are very impactful this year. I think that is far more important than the X’s & O’s aspect now more than ever,” Brown said.
Despite the challenges these coaches have faced, they have been able to find a few positives in this season as well.
Carroll believes that the team has done great in participating during the shutdown, especially at the varsity level.
Although these conflicts have been tough, Carroll is still able to find a silver lining in gratefulness.
“I think the current challenges that we’ve been facing have given us all a renewed sense of gratefulness for the time that we get to spend together to compete and improve each day,” Carroll said.
Averett believes that there is a light side to the situation, as the team can see which athletes are truly dedicated, and which athletes are not.
Bhandari found a few positives that the basketball team was able to come up with in these trying times. “I think the positive that came out of this was the fact that many of the teams didn’t have these daily workouts to keep their players busy and active, which may have given our team an advantage,” Bhandari said.
Bhandari also believes that the zoom workouts have brought the team closer together, and helped the team remain in good shape.
Brown is also very proud in his team for their participation this season.
“The team has responded as well as they possibly could have. Life is 10% what happens, and 90% how you react, and the guys reacted positively to this. These guys were all in from the start, and I’m very proud of them for that,” Brown said.
Brown thinks the players responded very well to zoom sessions and the 3 week layoff, especially with it being a young group.
Brown has also found his own silver lining for his basketball team.
“I believe the adversity all these players are facing is bringing them closer together collectively as a group, which has definitely been a silver lining for the team,” Brown said.
These coaches have all done their best to adjust to COVID-19 and its results through its process in the sports cycle, and have come away with some conflicts that they believe have been tough to conquer.
“From a coaching standpoint, this year has been much more challenging in terms of planning and preparing. You never know who is going to be cleared to play on any given day. I think not knowing when the next day will hold has been a bit of a roller coaster ride for coaches and players alike,” Carroll said.
“This year is a new process where every team is facing the same challenges, so we need to adapt and adjust,” Brown said.